Better relations with Belarus conditional on progress on freedom and democracy says European Parliament

Pressmeddelande   •   Apr 06, 2009 10:41 CEST

Parliament remains concerned about the human rights situation in Belarus, but welcomes the increased high-level EU-Belarus dialogue as a way of building mutual understanding. Further intensification of the dialogue must be conditional on ending restrictions on freedom and violence against opposition activists.

MEPs call specifically for the immediate release of Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Liavonau and Uladzimir Asipenka and Artsiom Dubski and for a review of the sentences of restricted freedom imposed on a number of those who took part in the demonstrations of January 2008.

They call for progress in the next nine months in reforming electoral legislation, providing equal rights to all media outlets, guaranteeing freedom of association and assembly by abolishing Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code and guaranteeing political rights and freedoms by discontinuing the practice of politically motivated dismissals from jobs and universities.

There should be a review of recent cases of forcible army conscription of several young activists, such as Franak Viačorka, Ivan Šyla and Zmiter Fedaruk. Since the first of these is the child of an opposition politician, this conscription could be seen as a way of putting pressure on the opposition.

Parliament calls on the Government of Belarus to immediately establish a moratorium on all death sentences and executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

MEPs further call on the Belarusian authorities to recognise the Union of Poles led by Angelika Borys.

MEPs support the Council's decision to extend for one year the restrictive measures against certain Belarusian officials while relaxing travel restrictions imposed in practice for a nine-month period. If Belarus makes progress on all the above points, then the travel ban on officials should be lifted altogether, and others steps taken to facilitate Belarus's reintegration into the European family of democratic nations.

Visa procedures for Belarusian citizens should be liberalised, while the EU should take every opportunity to support civil society and democratic developments there. Parliament calls for Commission funding for and Belarusian recognition of the independent TV station Belsat and for the Minsk authorities to allow the 'European Humanities University' - exiled in Lithuania - to be established again in Belarus, with genuine guarantees that it can work freely.
REF. : 20090401IPR53243


Ralph PINE